Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jonathan Swift, Monkey Closets, Churchill and The Flying Scotsman

Right. So I haven't been fully up to speed on my little blog. No kidding. I have been looking into fascinating dates but I just haven't got around to writing them up. Several things gave me the kick I needed today. Mark Twain's birthday, the origin of 'spend a penny', Churchill and completely not relevant to the actual day but some research I was doing led me to discover The Earl of Dundonald which led me to remember just how much I enjoy doing this.

Jonathan Swift was born on this day in 1667. I couldn't decide which link to include so I went for this fabulous image from the British Library.

November the 30th 1761 saw the birth of Smithson Tennant,  the English chemist who first identified the elements osmium and iridium; the first deriving its' name from the Greek word osme meaning odour, due to the pungent odour the latter from the Greek goddess Iris symnolised by a rainbow. Awfully long time ago but I like his approach.

I find myself quoting Mark Twain rather a lot. Samuel Clemens was born on November the 30th 1835. I am including this link here as I think is it just fabulous - his letter to Walt Whitman via the wonderful Letters of Note.

November the 30th 1874 is the birthday of Sir Winston Churchill. Again of course there are too many things to include here but I thought the link to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 makes an interesting read.

Lucy Maud Montgomery  shares a birthday with Chruchill. She was born in Clifton, now New Jersey. Mark Twain said of Anne that she was  'the dearest and most loveable child since the immortal Alice.'

The steam locomotive The Flying Scotsman became the first train to officially exceed 100 mph on this day on 1934.

In 1936 The Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 was destroyed by fire. Again slightly off the axis but I love this story of the Victoria Regia lily. I love flowers. I also came across what seems to be the origin of the expression 'to spend a penny.' Crystal Palace housed the first public conveniences, also called Monkey Closets and there was a penny charge to use them. One source states that 827, 280 visitors made use of the service.

This wonderful image courtesy of Wikipedia.

November the 30th is St. Andrew's Day - the Patron Saint of Scotland. He is also the Patron Saint of Barbados, the island having gained its' independence from the UK on this day.

OK food. There was an article in  The Guardian today about odd coloured brussels sprouts. I love brussels sprouts and thought I would choose this.


Catriona Ling said...

As a Scot waved my glass for St Andrew, apparently he is also the patron saint of Russia. Had never thought about spend a penny before - just shows how one accepts expressions without really thinking about them - love it when I learn something new, so thanks.

March 17th said...

Actually C I owe you a St Andrews's day drink, it was your lovely post on the Mrs Mole book that got me back in the saddle, so to speak to thankyou ! I found that tale enchanting too. xx